Monday, October 28, 2013

We have been working on the refuge:)

The week started out with an amazing full moon. 

Our lead- Kathleen is amazing. She has been involved in the world of ecology (birds, insects, plants) for years- teaching & testing & analyzing & reporting to influence the conservation and management of the environment for years.

Kathleen has us focusing on 3 main areas:

1. Waterfowl surveys for the Delta
2. Transect surveys for a variety of different habitats along the Bill Williams River
3. Taking photos of the common birds seen around the refuge for Kathleen to use for classes and visual aids

Bob was born for this:)

Here is a photo of the Delta area where we are performing Waterfowl surveys. 

We use our binoculars and spotting scopes to count the waterfowl seen in this delta region all the way to a line of buoys-making up an area covering 360 acres in one hour. 

Here are a few out of the thousands of birds counted (mostly American Coots this time of year) The waterfowl both are migrating through and some stop for the winter. (many of these photos are taken through my spotting scope using an attachment to use my iphone)

This is an Eared Grebe in winter plumage (not quite as colorful as their breeding plumage and a can be tricky to discern between the Horned Grebe at distances)

I love these little Pied-billed Grebes

Clark's Grebe

This is either a Red or Red-necked Phalarope that is passing through (another bird in winter plumage)

Great or Lesser Scaup (male)- We think this is a Greater due to the rounder head shape

Greater Scaup female

Male Redhead

Canvasback males

Canvasback female

The transect surveys vary depending on the goal of the surveys. Kathleen has designed these transects to consist of 20 points 20 meters apart covering various types of habitats. The purpose of these transects to to track population densities of birds, plants and other mammals. We are just focusing on birds. Each transect is surveyed for 3 consecutive days at the same time 4 times a year to get a snap shot of what his happening in the various habitats. We start out at point one (one observation point in the transect includes 10 meters in each direction- which is not very far) and collect information about the temperature, humidity, wind and time- then we observe any bird activity within and around the transect for 3-4 minutes and note our observations. Once we complete the transect Bob then inputs the information into Ebirds online reporting system and shares the results with Kathleen and myself.

It is an amazing opportunity to be out in the desert seeing & learning about the activities around us. One morning we had 8 migrating Flickers come through, a Gila Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike and a Sharp-shinned Hawk come by as we were getting ready to hike to the transect!! That was all before 7:00 am. We typically like to be ready to start between 7 & 7:30 to capture the birds waking activity.

Upland desert wash

This flag marks a transect point where we stop and make our observation

Sometimes we have no activity at the point- since 10 meters is a pretty small area and the birds are shy of our presence for the most part. Below is a cricket that does not mind- we are probably providing him a safe place to hide from predators.

This Cholla cactus is home to a nesting Cactus Wren- we have been seeing it with nesting materials. This is great news since they appear to be experiencing declining numbers.

We hiked in along the Bill Williams River bed since there is no water in it currently- amazing bird life (and mosquitos) this is a cool rock formation along the river bed.

Mountain Lion scat


Butterflies everywhere

Photos from around the refuge headquarter:

Anna's Hummingbird male

Verdin-performing a balancing act

House wren singing its song

Ash-throated Flycatcher 

Song Sparrow

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher posing for me

Tomorrow we take the trailer in and begin our stay in the local motel- stay tuned & cross your fingers all goes smoothly!

Another amazing week :)

Turtle & Hawk

PS-We both took the government defensive driving test and passed! Four grueling hours on the computer!

After feeling like this for 4 hours....

We both got our certificates:)

1 comment: